A reading club with a view to the future

049 David Christian: Origin Story

A history of the universe from the Big Bang to the present day, weaving together multiple scientific disciplines and human history

David Christian: Origin Story: A Big History of Everything


Origin Story presents a sweeping history of the universe, from the Big Bang to the present day, using a multidisciplinary approach that draws on scientific theories and human history. It highlights the connections between different fields of study and illustrates the evolution of life on Earth, as well as the impact of humans on the planet.


Title: Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

Author: David Christian

Publishing Year: 2018

Publisher: Little, Brown and Company

Length in hours: 12 hours and 23 minutes

5 main ideas

  1. The universe is a product of the Big Bang and has evolved through a series of phases, each with its own unique characteristics.
  2. The emergence of life on Earth was a result of a series of chance events and environmental factors.
  3. Human beings have played a significant role in shaping the planet and have become the dominant force of change in the Anthropocene era.
  4. The interconnectedness of different scientific disciplines is crucial for understanding the history of the universe and our place within it.
  5. The study of history is an ongoing process, and new discoveries and insights are constantly shaping our understanding of the universe.
David Christian: Origin Story: A Big History of Everything

5 funny quotes

  1. "One of the most useful skills we need to teach our children is how to be comfortable with change and uncertainty. Luckily, they are already well-practiced at this, as anyone who has watched a five-year-old move through life can attest."
  2. "The universe is not a comfortable place. It is cold, full of radiation, and mostly empty. Even the atoms are mostly empty space. But that doesn't stop us from trying to understand it."
  3. "The universe is a vast and complex place. So complex, in fact, that it takes an entire book just to give an overview of the history of everything."
  4. "Our existence is the result of a cosmic fluke, a chance combination of events that led to the formation of our planet, the evolution of life, and the rise of our species. We are the lucky ones."
  5. "It's a good thing the universe is so big, because it gives us plenty of room to explore and discover new things."

5 thought-provoking quotes​

  1. "The universe is a work in progress."
  2. "The universe is big, ancient, and, by definition, full of surprises."
  3. "The history of the universe is the history of everything."
  4. "We are made of stardust."
  5. "The most exciting thing about our species is that we are still in the process of discovering who we are."

5 dilemmas

  1. The Fermi Paradox - if the universe is so vast and filled with potential life, why haven't we found any other intelligent civilizations?
  2. The Anthropocene - the debate over whether humans have become such a dominant force on the planet that we have entered a new geological epoch.
  3. The Arrow of Time - why does time seem to move only in one direction, from the past to the future?
  4. The Great Filter - the idea that there may be some sort of universal obstacle that prevents civilizations from advancing beyond a certain point.
  5. The Nature vs. Nurture Debate - the age-old question of how much of our behavior and traits are determined by genetics versus environment.

5 examples

  1. The Big Bang - the explosive beginning of the universe.
  2. Lucy - the famous hominid skeleton that helped to reveal our evolutionary history.
  3. Carl Sagan - the astronomer and science communicator who helped to popularize big history.
  4. Rosalind Franklin - the scientist who played a crucial role in the discovery of the structure of DNA.
  5. Mary Leakey - the paleoanthropologist who discovered the first fossilized footprints of our ancient ancestors.

Referenced books

  1. "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind" by Yuval Noah Harari
  2. "The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself" by Sean Carroll
  3. "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson
  4. "The Universe in a Nutshell" by Stephen Hawking
  5. "Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies" by Jared Diamond
  6. "Origin Story: A Big History of Everything" by David Christian (self-reference)
  7. "The Big History Timeline Wallbook" by Christopher Lloyd
  8. "The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era--A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos" by Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry

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"We are made of stardust."

David Christian: Origin Story: A Big History of Everything
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